Wednesday, May 28, 2008

how to recap the ninth day of my trip (tokyo edition)

i'm alive. and in more ways than you realize.

i woke up without a headache, willed my tired body to get dressed, packed, checked out and dragged myself into a cab to the airport, and i couldn't be happier to get out of guangzhou. what didn't make me happy was learning that rich, my DP, contracted the same food poisoning that i had (except delayed by 18 hours). so as we drove to the airport, he was just starting the headache faze. poor dude.

anyways, four hours and countless rounds of video blackjack later, we landed in tokyo. narito airport is pretty far away from the city. as in, a $225 cab ride away far. but that's okay. that's why god created expense accounts.

we arrived to the cerulean towers, the most lavish and upscale hotel in tokyo. it's weird, though. yes, it's beautiful and yes, it's exclusive, but it's also rather cold and antiseptic. still, i can't complain. my room is nice, with a stunning view of the city. and my toilet features a heated seat. you read that right. go ahead. read that again. heated toilet seat. yessir, i ain't in guangzhou anymore. huzzah!

we had dinner in one of the twelve restaurants in the hotel - this one, a japanese restaurant. by the way, one thing that does stun me is that the employees in the restaurant barely spoke any english. not to play arrogant american, but wouldn't you think a world class hotel like this would only employ people who also spoke english? there are plenty of americans in this place. that's got to be a large portion of your clientele, right?

then again, why should they kowtow to my language? after all, i am the visitor.

i am the arrogant american.

anyways, this would be the first meal i would eat in 36 hours (outside of the three scoops of ice cream) and i felt that my stomach and digestive system would be up for it. we got sashimi, sushi and vegetable teriyaki for the table, and i ordered sliced beef for myself. and, with the first bite of the sashimi, i ate the best sashimi i've ever had in my life, and it wasn't close. and, with my first bite of sushi, same thing. i cannot put into words how soft, fresh and amazing the raw meat melted in my mouth, and how perfect the rice accentuated the taste. and the sliced beef was in another world. the whole meal was beyond tremendous, and i'm sure this isn't the best sushi restaurant in the city.

and trust me, i'll find it.

my stomach and digestive system were thankful.

we went out with rob (our trainer), getting to know him and he getting to know us. i told him that i wrote commercials for ea sports for four years. he then asks me, "i know this might be a weird question, but do you know the charles rogers commercial? i'm charles rogers, i had..."

"68 catches and 13 touchdowns? yeah, i know it. i wrote it."

"get the hell out of here! i love that commercial! i can quote that whole thing. holy crap, you're the guy who wrote that! i can't believe it!"

and then, he sang the whole thing, even quoting the tagline exactly.

how cool is that? and what's even cooler is that the commercial ran only on one single day five long years ago. that made my day, my month and this trip.

but i digress. after dinner, we went for a walk around shibuya, the shopping center of all japan, and it was just...just...i can't really describe it. it just was, is and forever will be.

i visited the hachikō, which is a statue of a dog and the ultimate symbol of loyalty. in fact, here's the story, from wikipedia:

Hachikō, an Akita dog, was born in 1923 and sold to a well to do family in Tokyo while still a puppy. The father of this family, Eisaburo Ueno, a Tokyo University professor in his 50's, loved Hachiko very much and doted on him constantly, taking him for long walks, always brushing him, and even taking baths with him inside the home. He treated him truly as one of the family.

Up until Hachiko was two years old, he always walked to the station with the father and after the father went through the stalls he would go home by himself. But, then he would return every day to wait outside the stalls to meet the father coming home. All the locals and train station people knew this man and this dog had a special bond.

One day however, the father died while he was teaching at the university. Hachiko went to pick him up but he never came. And, Hachiko never stopped waiting. Every day for about 10 or 11 years he went and waited. The story was picked up and popularized by Japanese newspapers, and Hachiko became a minor celebrity while he still lived, attending the inauguration of his own statue in 1934.

how much does that break your heart and lift your spirit?

we walked through the massive crossection of people in center-gai outside of shibuya station, where bill murray famously whispered something to scarlett johannson at the end of the brilliant "lost in translation". it's just like times square, but nothing like it at all. it's tamed, ordered and with nothing and nobody getting in your face. just absolutely beautiful, just the way it should be.

we walked around shibuya in the shadows of all the stores, each putting their own footprint of architecture on the neighborhood. high rises with neon lights, angles jutting in and out at just the right arcs, it's what vegas would look like if vegas had even a smidgen of design taste and still got lucky. the whole area just completely blew me away to no ends.

it's an area that caters to the young, and the japanese women here are just jaw-droppingly gorgeous and impeccably stylish. they make it work. and i hate to sound gay here, but the dudes have got it going on too. i feel so 2008 here, which would be great if everyone else weren't so 2011.

basically, it's a perfect confluence of beauty, from the people to the stores to the fashion to the vibe.

if i were younger, i would live here.

and this all happened from a thirty minute walk.

tomorrow morning, i'll have the chance to walk around some more and do a little shopping. needless to say, i'm incredibly looking forward to it.

this morning, i was just a body with a defeated spirit and a weakened system. and now, i can't wait to wake up for tomorrow.

what a difference a day makes.

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